What’s my bandwidth? When calling it “4K” isn’t enough…

Manufacturers often rate their products by the maximum supported resolution: 720p, 1080p, etc. This works well for older products that support lower resolutions, but 4K and its associated technologies present a bit of a challenge. 4K is not 4K, even though manufacturers often generically label their products as “4K compliant” or “4K ready.”

4K comes in a variety of flavors that radically affect the required electronics and cabling, and when you include features like HDR the signal gets pretty beefy fast. Simply calling something “4K” doesn’t really do the product or application justice, and it can lead to issues as you start to put generically labeled 4K products together into a system.

To ensure compatibility and satisfactory performance, it’s better to understand the Data Rate (also known as the Bandwidth) of your products and system. This rating is based on all of the components of the signal—color bit depth, frame rate, chroma sub-sampling, etc.—and understanding it will help make sure your electronics and cable will support the best performance possible.

The below chart serves as a basic overview of HDMI signal components, including the Data Rate (or required bandwidth) of the resulting signal.

Generic
Name
HDMI
Version
Actual
Resolution
Frame
Rate
Chroma Sub-
Sampling
Color
Bit Depth
HDR Wide Color
Gamut
Data Rate
(Bandwidth)
1080p 1.4 1920x1080 24 fps 4:2:0 8 bit No No 2.23 Gbps
1080p 1.4 1920x1080 60 fps 4:2:0 8 bit No No 4.45 Gbps
1080p 1.4 1920x1080 60 fps 4:4:4 8 bit No No 4.45 Gbps
4K@30 1.4 3840x2160 24 fps 4:2:0 8 bit No No 8.91 Gbps
4K@30 1.4 3840x2160 24 fps 4:4:4 8 bit No No 8.91 Gbps
4K@30 1.4 4096x2160 24 fps 4:4:4 8 bit No No 8.91 Gbps
4K@60 1.4 3840x2160 60 fps 4:2:0 8 bit No No 8.91 Gbps
4K@60 2.0 3840x2160 60 fps 4:2:0 8 bit No No 8.91 Gbps
4K@30 2.0 3840x2160 24 fps 4:2:2 10 bit Yes Yes 8.91 Gbps
↑ COPPER BASED SYSTEMS ↑   ↓ FIBER BASED SYSTEMS ↓
4K@30 2.0 3840x2160 24 fps 4:4:4 10 bit Yes Yes 11.14 Gbps
4K@60 2.0 3840x2160 60 fps 4:2:0 10 bit Yes Yes 11.14 Gbps
4K@30 2.0 3840x2160 24 fps 4:4:4 12 bit Yes Yes 13.37 Gbps
4K@60 2.0 3840x2160 60 fps 4:2:0 12 bit Optional Yes 13.37 Gbps
4K@60 2.0 3840x2160 60 fps 4:2:2 12 bit Optional Yes 17.82 Gbps
4K@60 2.0 3840x2160 60 fps 4:4:4 8 bit Optional Yes 17.82 Gbps

Download the pdf here: WhitePaper_HDMI_Bandwidth.pdf

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